We swing ungirded hips,
And lightened are our eyes,
The rain is on our lips,
We do not run for prize.
We know not whom we trust
Nor whitherward we fare,
But we run because we must
Through the great wide air.
The waters of the seas
Are troubled as by storm.
The tempest strips the trees
And does not leave them warm.
Does the tearing tempest pause?
Do the tree-tops ask it why?
So we run without a cause
‘Neath the big bare sky.
The rain is on our lips,
We do not run for prize.
But the storm the water whips
And the wave howls to the skies.
The winds arise and strike it
And scatter it like sand,
And we run because we like it
Through the broad bright land.
— Charles Hamilton Sorley
More sky please push open the apartment shutters
crowbar the paint factory’s broken window frames rip
tar paper from the caving roof push it back crack it open
blast an airshaft through the neighboring buildings snap
it back expose the bird-ridden drafts the wren’s been busy
here mornings year-round churr and chip golden open-throat
yodel smack in the sleep cycle soldered to feeder suet
in ivy like titmouse chickadee refusing to shift it back
Carolina Canada climate haywire more sky please rik tik tik
break open more light all the way past oil tank farms
creosote docks the Kill Van Kull slide by kingfisher flap
past cormorant incongruous flights parallel and merging
plunge into slap out of tidal pools the Fresh Kills beak
full of killifish and silversides crayfish and krill tarp
past the salt grass and bridges fly Pulaski Skyway
Bayonne’s silver buildings blank tower blocks sky
wide as the river mouth more sky more please push it back
past tankers and tugboats the last hulking cruise ship
lasers fired across a spinning disco ball wobble bass
and echo chamber dancing on deck past clanging buoys
waveless channels to deepest basin all things even
terns drop away sea and sky opened wide and empty
— John Hennessy
it’s true sometimes I cannot
stop myself from spilling
unpetalling apple blossoms raiding
making off with napkins I’m nothing
until I happen
flipping an umbrella outside-in
throwing its owner
into a fumble
pelting the avenue with sleet or dust
at times downtown
riding over galleries of air
so full of high excitement howling
I borrow an old woman’s hat
and fling it into the road
arriving with news of the larkspur
and the bumblebee
at times embracing you so lightly
in ways you don’t even register
— James Arthur
The heat rises in distorted gold
waves around fire
but without fire,
anything seen through it.
The heat rises, rasping
the air it rises through,
scuffing the surface,
if the air has a surface.
The tall summer
field is the keeper
of secrets. Lie down
and forget your body, forgive
your body its bad cradle,
Lie down and listen
to the rasp, to heat sweep
the pale, dry grass as if
it were your own
breathing, as if the field
you’ve pressed your shape into
is a broom in reverse,
a broom being
swept by the wind.
— Maggie Smith
Just past dusk I passed Christiansburg,
cluster of lights sharpening
as the violet backdrop of the Blue Ridge
darkened. Not stars
but blue-black mountains rose
before me, rose like sleep
after hours of driving, hundreds of miles
blurred behind me. My eyelids
were so heavy but I could see
far ahead a summer thunderstorm flashing,
lightning sparking from cloud
to mountaintop. I drove toward it,
into the pass at Ironto, the dark
now deeper in the long steep grades,
heavy in the shadow of mountains weighted
with evergreens, with spruce, pine,
and cedar. How I wished to sleep
in that sweet air, which filled–
suddenly over a rise–with the small
lights of countless fireflies. Everywhere
they drifted, sweeping from the trees
down to the highway my headlights lit.
Fireflies blinked in the distance
and before my eyes, just before
the windshield struck them and they died.
Cold phosphorescent green, on the glass
their bodies clung like buds bursting
the clean line of a branch in spring.
How long it lasted, how many struck
and bloomed as I drove on, hypnotic
stare fixed on the road ahead, I can’t say.
Beyond them, beyond their swarming
bright deaths came the rain, a shower
which fell like some dark blessing.
Imagine when I flicked the windshield wipers on
what an eerie glowing beauty faced me.
In that smeared, streaked light
diminished sweep by sweep you could have seen
my face. It was weary, shocked, awakened,
alive with wonder far after the blades and rain
swept clean the light of those lives
passed, like stars rolling over
the earth, now into other lives.
— Michael Pettit
Eruptive lightnings flutter to and fro
Above the heights of immemorial hills;
Thirst-stricken air, dumb-throated, in its woe
Limply down-sagging, its limp body spills
Upon the earth. A panting silence fills
The empty vault of Night with shimmering bars
Of sullen silver, where the lake distils
Its misered bounty.—Hark! No whisper mars
The utter silence of the untranslated stars.
— E.E. Cummings
Your voice, with clear location of June days,
Called me outside the window. You were there,
Light yet composed, as in the just soft stare
Of uncontested summer all things raise
Plainly their seeming into seamless air.
Then your love looked as simple and entire
As that picked pear you tossed me, and your face
As legible as pearskin’s fleck and trace,
Which promise always wine, by mottled fire
More fatal fleshed than ever human grace.
And your gay gift—Oh when I saw it fall
Into my hands, through all that naïve light,
It seemed as blessed with truth and new delight
As must have been the first great gift of all.
— Richard Wilbur